I was watching a film yesterday, the plotline was largely based in America around the 50’s, where a black guy in the military was subjected to bullying, intimidation and not being able to do a job he really wanted to just because of the colour of his skin. These types of film always make me feel sad, not so much because they happened (though that is bad enough) but they happened so recently. Anyway, the point is that my eldest daughter (9) came in and asked what I was watching, so I explained the plot and how the guy was being bullied because of the colour of his skin. “But that’s silly” she said, “why would anyone do that?”
In many ways I was very proud, she simply didn’t see the colour of skin and pronounced the film boring. However we continued to talk about it and I told her of some of the things that have gone on in terms of racism in history and even goes on today. We had already had words about sexism as she had made a comment a couple of days earlier about not being able to do something because she “was just a girl”. A comment to which both Amanda and I had practically jumped down her throat to tell her that type of view wasn’t acceptable. Both Amanda and I were quite shocked by the comment because we do work quite hard to negate those types of attitudes and it just shows that Society is such that those biases can still strongly prevail.
For me this proves that we can not get complacent about bias, and while as a family we do try to present all things equal (it’s quite common to see my son dressed in a tutu whilst wielding a play sword), we do need to ensure we challenge bias when it arises. I believe Ellie put it quite nicely when she described a racist attitude as “silly”.